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Science Films at CPH: DOX 2023

CPH: DOX 2023 is currently under-way, bringing the best of Danish and international documentaries to Copenhagen March 15 to March 26. Across 13 of the festival’s program sections, we have rounded up the science and technology-themed projects to look out for, with descriptions excerpted from the festival’s programmers. Organized by section, the 50 films and 14 interactive works below include Werner Herzog’s Sloan-supported THEATRE OF THOUGHT, a pair of techno-futuristic shorts from Ayoung Kim (AT THE SURISOL UNDERWATER LAB, DELIVERY DANCER’S SPHERE) and the international premiere of Ian Cheney’s ARC OF OBLIVION.

Science & Film’s Sonia Epstein will be covering the festival from Copenhagen, so stay tuned.


AN EXCAVATION. Dir. Maeve Brennan. 20 min. International Premiere. “Three crates of 2500-year-old Greek vases are excavated for the second time by two history experts, who uncover the many new layers of meaning that have emerged in the meantime.”

SONGS OF EARTH. Dir. Margreth Olin. 90 min. World Premiere. “The mountainous landscapes of Norway provide the monumental backdrop for the cinematic nature experience of the year. A magnificent, existential journey with the filmmaker's parents as its human yardstick, and with the primordial forces of the earth looming in the bedrock.”

TOTAL TRUST. Dir. Jialing Zhang. 97 min. World Premiere. “The first major film about the Chinese surveillance state is a disturbing tale of technology, (self-)censorship and abuse of power in the 21st century. Two families fight for justice from within the digital prison.”


BRUISES. Dir. Daniel Ulacia Balmaseda, Ginan Seidl. 90 min. World Premiere. “A sensory film from the twilight between two worlds. In a village on Mexico's southern coast, a small community lives in a complex, spiritual bond with nature's animals.”

Still from Bruises, Courtesy of CPH: DOX

DRIFTING WOODS. Dir. Pia Rönicke. 100 min. World Premiere. “A non-linear, interdisciplinary film work that explores a vast forest area where human and non-human life forms are part of an organic and polyphonic narrative about the history and possible future of the forest.”

THE SECRET GARDEN. Dir. Nour Ouayda. 27 min. World Premiere. “An adventure in eight chapters about a secret garden on the outskirts of an unnamed town, which one day wakes up overgrown with new and unknown plant species.”


DEEP RISING. Dir. Matthieu Rytz. 93 min. European Premiere. “The depths of the world's oceans are the new Wild West as gold fever rages among mining companies fighting for the right to extract rare metals from the planet's last untouched environment.”


LYNX MAN. Dir. Juha Suonpää. 80 min. World Premiere. “A long-bearded Finnish hermit sweats out demons in his sauna, when he isn’t crawling around the forest floor at night with hidden cameras to document the shy and endangered lynx. Trippy and cinematic excursion into one man's inner universe.”

THE GAMER. Dir. Petri Luukkainen, Jesse Jokinen. 80 min. World Premiere. “He always comes in second in Counterstrike. But now 17-year-old Finnish super-gamer Verneri wants to be number one with the help of an e-sports psychologist. A shoot ’em up film about self-esteem, ambition and digital dreams.”


THE ARC OF OBLIVION. Dir. Ian Cheney. 94 min. International Premiere. “A filmmaker builds his own ark to protect his memories from the ravages of time in a rambunctious, thought-provoking and entertaining essay that tackles grand topics like memory and impermanence with great wit and care.”

PLASTIC FANTASTIC. Dir. Isa Willinger. 100 min. World Premiere. “The global plastic crisis is dismantled and reassembled in a well-researched, cinematic film that not only points to the problems, but also to possible solutions. Probably the most important climate film of the year, with an attentive eye on greenwashing and climate racism.”

WILD LIFE. Dir. Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin. 93 min. International Premiere. “The story of the eco-activist who started the clothing brand North Face and spent all his money saving Chile's wildlife, told by his life partner and the directors of FREE SOLO.”

!AITSA. Dir. Dane Dodds. Denmark, South Africa. 2023. 89 min. World Premiere. “The ancient knowledge of indigenous peoples challenges high-tech science in a near-cosmic tale from a South African desert where the world’s largest radio telescope is being built with antennae aimed at the far corners of the universe.”


ALGORITHMS OF BEAUTY. Dir. Miléna Trivier. 22 min. “A contemplative film about the boundaries between natural and technological beauty. Can an AI-generated image recreate the beauty of a flower?”

Still from ALGORITHMS OF BEAUTY, Courtesy of CPH: DOX

ATOMIC HOPE: INSIDE THE PRO-NUCLEAR MOVEMENT. Dir. Frankie Fenton. 82 min “Nuclear power - yes, please? Thought-provoking insight into the grassroots activist movement convinced that hated nuclear power is the future and the quickest way out of the climate crisis.”

CYBORG: A DOCUMENTARY. Dir. Carey Born. 87 min. World Premiere. “Artist Neil Harbisson was born colour blind, but an antenna drilled into his skull enables him to hear colours and today he is the world's first officially recognised cyborg. Meet a man who may be the prototype of the human of the future.”

GREEN CITY LIFE. Dir. Manon Turina, François Marques. 85 min. “What will the green cities of the future look like? The answers are plenty on a tour of the world's cities in a film that looks at solutions rather than problems with optimism and contagious energy.”

EXOSKELETONS. Dir. Mariana Castiñeiras. 18 min. European Premiere. “An expedition into the micro world of insects with a passionate beetle collector and a Uruguayan film director who has an ingrained phobia of anything that crawls.”

INTRUDERS. Dir. David Krøyer. 75 min. World Premiere. “Invasive plant and animal species have changed the Danish landscape. Six nature lovers are on a mission to remove them again, but is it even possible to rewind the human impact on nature, now that we brought them here ourselves?”

THE LONGEST GOODBYE. Dir. Ido Mizrahy. 87 min. “Even astronauts going into space are affected by social isolation. A skilled NASA psychologist prepares the brave explorers for their lonely journey to the ultimate frontier: Mars.”

Still from THE LONGEST GOODBYE, Courtesy of CPH: DOX

MAKE PEOPLE BETTER. Dir. Cody Sheehy. 83 min. “Nerve-wracking high-tech thriller about human genetic engineering, ethical twilight zones and the ability to control evolution, spiced up with grand political battles between the US and China. Thought-provoking science fiction from a future we already live in.”

NUCLEAR. Dir. Oliver Stone. 105 min. “Oliver Stone's film on nuclear power gives even nuclear sceptics food for thought as he looks at the controversial energy source in the shadow of wars and climate crises. A critical support of the atom in a world without easy solutions.”

REMAINS. Dir. Linus Mørk. 82 min. World Premiere. “Join Eske Willerslev on a research tour of the US where 10,000-year-old bones may tell us about the first Americans, but where ethical and personal dilemmas pile up in the Danish professor’s encounters with today's indigenous peoples.”

SILENT EXTINCTION. Dir. Maja Friis. 12 min. World Premiere. “Experience a coral's response to rising water temperatures in a visual work that documents the tragic beauty of corals' endangered existence. Shown in a loop followed by a talk between the artist and scientist Elena Bollati.”

SOPHIA. Dir. Crystal Moselle, Jon Kasbe. 89 min. “A robot-maker in need of money and his electronic daughter are the stars in a bittersweet film about what happens when big dreams collide with a capitalist reality, and about what it means to be a real human being.”

SUN UNDER GROUND. Dir. Alex Gerbaulet, Mareike Bernien. 39 min. “Archaeological excavation of the many layers of narratives surrounding uranium, with threads back to the Soviet Union and nuclear weapons programmes.”

THEATRE OF THOUGHT. Dir. Werner Herzog. 107 min. “Werner Herzog turns his gaze on the human brain in a witty and thought-provoking film that looks at the staggering philosophical and ethical challenges of modern neurotechnology with an eye for the quirky and eccentric details.”

THE COLOR OF ICE. Dir. Anders Graver. 59 min. World Premiere. “Two scientists and a Greenlandic hunter each investigate and discover climate change in their own way on the white and blue ice sheets, but the goal and the hope are the same.”

THE ENTANGLED FOREST. Dir. Nick Jordan. 17 min. International Premiere. “The internal communication and nonhuman intelligence of plants are reflected on a field trip to a forest with biology professor and pioneer Suzanne Simard.”

THE PAVILLION. Dir. Aannguaq Reimer-Johansen. 10 min. World Premiere. “An architect’s sculptural work intervenes in the Greenlandic nature of which it is itself a product on the country’s western coast. A construction that becomes a reflection on the natural conditions from which it springs.”

Still from THE PAVILLION, Courtesy of CPH: DOX

THE YOUTUBE EFFECT. Dir. Alex Winter. 99 min. “A deep dive down the internet's ultimate rabbit hole. Alex Winter's rambunctious high-speed essay on technology takes a thorough and thought-provoking look at the many realities we live in at once.”

UNCANNY ME. Dir. Katharina Pethke. 45 min. “A young model explores the possibilities and costs of recreating herself as a computer-generated avatar. A glimpse into the future of fashion and visual culture.”


AT THE SURISOL UNDERWATER LAB. Dir. Ayoung Kim. 17 min. “A simulation of the near future, a decade after the pandemic of 2020, which delves into a possible world, reflecting and distorting the conditions of the current world.”

DE HUMANI CORPORIS FABRICA. Dir. Véréna Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor. 115 min. “Two of the most radically innovative minds of contemporary cinema are back with an experience unlike anything seen on screen: A high-tech moving image work shot inside the human body.”

DELIVERY DANCER’S SPHERE. Dir. Ayoung Kim. 25 min. “Techno-futuristic video work from a fictional future Seoul, where a female courier moves through the city’s digital labyrinths.”

FRAGMENTS FROM HEAVEN. Dir. Adnane Baraka. 84 min. “Cosmic film from the deserts of Morocco, where nomads search for meteorites under the dome of the sky to sell them to science. A profound, existential experience that fills the cinema screen as few other films.”

IT IS NIGHT IN AMERICA. Dir. Ana Vaz. 66 min. “Wild animals head for the cities to avoid extinction. Are they the ones invading us? Or is it us who have occupied their natural habitat? Ana Vaz’s eco-horror film is set in an artificial twilight from which new concepts can emerge.”

MATTER OUT OF PLACE. Dir. Nikolaus Geyrhalter. 110 min. “What will future archaeologists think when they dig their way back to our time? One thing is certain: They will have to dig deep to reach through the rubbish heaps. A sensory report from the autumn of the Anthropocene Age. “

Still from MATTER OUT OF PLACE, Courtesy of CPH: DOX


DRY GROUND BURNING. Dir. Adirley Queirós, Joana Pimenta. 153 min. “An epic Brazilian festival hit that mixes action and raw docu-realism in its story of two real-life sisters who run an illegal oil refinery in the middle of a favela and defend it fiercely. Dark, intense and deliriously innovative.”


AND THE KING SAID, WHAT A FANTASTIC MACHINE. Dir. Axel Danielson, Maximilien Van Aertryck. 85 min. “With a timeline that starts with the invention of photography in the 1800s and (so far) ends with Instagram, this fast-paced and award-winning film takes us on an entertaining surf across the last 150 years of visual culture.”

PARADISE. Dir. Alexander Abaturov. 89 min. “A fierce heat wave sets the sub-Arctic forests ablaze, but the authorities don't care. Locals rally to extinguish the inferno and fight ‘the Dragon’ in a monumental cinematic film from the end of the world.”


THE GRAB. Dir. Gabriela Cowperthwaite. 104 min. “An investigative journalist exposes foreign powers buying up land under a smokescreen. An alarming docu-thriller about the invisible battle for future resources, from the director of the docu-hit BLACKFISH.”

THE OIL MACHINE. Dir. Emma Davie. 78 min. “The great oil adventure of the North Sea is given a historical overhaul in a film about the still-flowing oil that has helped raise living standards for decades and now threatens to collapse the climate.”


THE INSANE EXPERIMENT. Dir. Lotte Mathilde Nielsen, Thure Lindhardt. World Premiere. “A drama documentary tells the story of one of the biggest psychiatric scandals in Danish history. The film combines investigative journalism and dramatisation, making it a historical drama with new revelations of a history where reality surpasses imagination.”

MOVING MOUNTAINS. Dir. Ase Brunborg Lie, Nanna Elvin Hansen. 30 min. World Premiere. “A tableau film about blowing up mountains to extract pigment to create the colour white, in both a concrete and figurative sense.”


TITINA. Dir. Kajsa Næss. 90 min. “Adventurous and beautifully animated film with historical footage about the Italian dog Titina, who was with the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen at the North Pole in 1925.”


AQUAPHOBIA. Dir. Jakob Kudsk Steensen. 7 min. World Premiere. “AQUAPHOBIA connects inner psychological landscapes to exterior ecosystems. Told in parallel to a break-up story between the viewer and a water microbe, each environment explores one of five stages of treatment for aquaphobia, within the context of global rising water levels.”

ATUEL. Dir. Santiago Franzani. 30 min. International Premiere. “ATUEL is a surrealist documentary game in which you explore beautiful, dreamlike landscapes inspired by the topography and wildlife of the Atuel River Valley in Argentina.”

CONSENSUS GENTIUM. Dir. Karen Palmer. United Kingdom. European Premiere. “CONSENSUS GENTIUM is an emotionally responsive film designed to be experienced on a mobile phone. Set in a future of surveillance and bias AI, the film watches you back, then the narrative branches in real time depending on your eye gaze.”

ENT- (MANY PATHS VERSION). Dir. Libby Heaney. “ENT- refers to the unwritten future of quantum tech & its inherent ability to dissolve the computational binary of 0s & 1s. In this version, players navigate non-binary landscapes & encounter entangled forms & quantum generated hybrid creatures.”

PSYCHOPLANKTON. Dir. Superflex. 5 min. “Plankton are too small to see, but they can form large enough masses to be seen from space.”

ZIZI AND ME. Dir. Me The Drag Queen, Jake Elwes. 45 min. “ZIZI & ME: a deepfake drag double act! Using Artificial Intelligence and real life drag, Me The Drag Queen and Jake Elwes present a unique show about queerness, cabaret and technology.”

ZIZI: QUEERING THE DATASET. Dir. Jake Elwes. 135 min. “The work disrupts a facial recognition system by re-training it with the addition of 1000 images of drag and gender fluid faces found online. This causes the weights inside the neural network to shift away from the normative identities it was originally trained on and into a space of queerness.”

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